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“The Drive North” and other poems by Robert W. Daly

The Drive North


The garage door closed, the drag of melancholy left behind.


To The River in brilliant sunlight,

grey macadam before and after me,

the sky blue when I look up, 

the chatter of tires, the only voices heard.


The wind is cold, though not the cold of winter.

It’s an in-between day, this day of veils before the spring.



Near the suburbs, dull advertisements call out

the names of real estate agents, car dealers,

implausible taverns, and gospel churches.


Beyond Oneida Lake, yellow-browns color fields

of last year's matted stubble. 

These lands are waiting - for farmers to sow new life.


Turgid rivers drain the hills and mountains to the east.

The grimy residues of winter lime the route and

northern borders of the woods.


Discards populate the roadsides and the slopes beyond 

- plastic bags, cartons from McDonalds, cast off cloths -

recalling appetites of five months past.


The woodlands, without trillium, are ominous,

wet with runoff and tediously grey,


Green’s reserved for cedars and

public signs telling how far it is

to Adams and Gunn’s Corners. 


Further north, old limestone houses, their broken beams

pointing without a point in all directions,

remnants, like the faded lives that built them, forgotten,

save for histories.


Further still, on the right, the city of my youth,

its prosperity gone, its heritage in decay.


I pass the turn to the army post where

young men learn to kill and die in foreign wars,

their widows and children, freed from love and harsh winters, return to

Tennessee, or Florida, or California, where they came from - or can go.


At last, after the county road, The River.


Seven miles wide where we encamp,

the passage for the ships still dressed with ice.

The water, bright and clear between the flows,

green-blue, and deadly if you fall in.



Soon, after the rains, these veils will lift, and

this stark world will astound us.


For what is hidden now by nature will erupt as spring,

as new-found love suddenly reveals itself

to those whom it will claim.



Life Jackets


As he got in the wooden boat,

the boat my father bought in forty-nine,

when I was sixteen, I watched

my grandson slip on a life jacket,

black and red, filled with neoprene,

the one I’d given him.



Then, a question came to me.

What further gear will he need,

not now, but later, to insulate him

from other harms along life’s way?

Good habits, worthy vocations,

sound judgments, good fortune,

and good companions, I thought.



By the time these musings ceased,

he was already out of sight,

exploring The River and The Islands,

leaving his family behind.

And I had neglected to say,

“Have fun,” or,

“Tell us what happened

when you return.



The Clock

The public clock tells time.


Not always.


There is time that is mine, or yours or ours.

There is the time of the beat, and of

     the interval between the beats.

There is the time of the promise and

     of the keeping of the promise.

There is a time for labor and for leisure, as

    scripture reminds us.


The public clock tells time.

But not so much.


Just as often,

time tells the clock, and,

we tell time.



By Robert W. Daly

A native of Watertown NY, Dr. Robert W. Daly has been a summer resident of Shady Shores, Town of Clayton since 1949. He is a graduate of St. Lawrence University and of the College of Medicine, Upstate Medical University, SUNY, Syracuse.  More of his poetry is found in recent issues of “The Healing Muse.” Dr. Daly’s professional and scholarly publications have appeared in “Literature and Medicine,” “Psychiatry,, the Journal of the American Psychiatric Association, “The Psychoanalytic Review, Medicine and Society,” “Santa Clara Lawyer,” and the “Syracuse International Journal of Law and Commerce.”  He is a veteran of the USAF (SAC, 1961-1963), he has also held appointments at Cornell University, the University of Cambridge (King's College), and as a Senior Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Posted in: Poetry
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Nancy bond
Comment by: Nancy bond
Left at: 5:59 PM Sunday, May 17, 2015
I really enjoyed these poems, especially "The Drive North". It made me feel almost as though I was riding in the car. Please keep up the good work and write many more poems. Sometimes it seems to be a lost art.
Cary and Janet Brick
Comment by: Cary and Janet Brick
Left at: 9:04 PM Sunday, May 17, 2015
Dr. Daly is a wonderful member of our Shady Shores community. His poetry is delightful--let's read more of his work!
Liz Pulley
Comment by: Liz Pulley
Left at: 5:50 PM Saturday, June 6, 2015
I enjoyed your poems and could relate to trying to keep the 16 year old safe! Hearing the words "the river", felt comfortable and familiar. Those words of my youth meant happiness. "Time to go to the river," my parents would announce as we packed the Studebaker and left Ohio for the trip north "to the river". Often we spent the night in some tourist home -checking out signs that still had their light on-which meant "vacancy".
Driving across the dramatic suspension bridge, trying to spot the cottage, stopping to reveal where we were born, and then arriving (often late at night), frequently greeted by relatives holding their flashlights (and maybe a cocktail as well!) in the dark, everyone giving an opinion where we could squeeze our car at a slant, between the tall pines, while avoiding the already earlier arrival's parking spot. Then the short walk, stepping on stones I knew so well, breathing the pine sented air...and then finally, there it was; "the river".
liz smith
Comment by: liz smith
Left at: 9:58 PM Friday, July 10, 2015
My friend Liz showed me your comment. I too visited the Thousand Islands as a kid from Erie, PA. Your description brings it all back - except that I was a preacher's kid and no one greeted us with cocktails!

Mark Andrews

when the Jag broke down ,and it was very new ,we spend a week in Kingston waiting for a part . it was to come from Montreal by bus . we took a lot of boat rides in that pretty St Lawrence river, to keep the boys entertained . after about 10 days the car was ready and I took it for a test ride ......same issue as before . so we just drove it to Toronto , and they put a RAG on the hose and we made it to Cincinnati Raymond motors while it was still under guarantee . What a trip !!!!!!I will never forget all the adventures with that Beauty, The Cat , as it was called